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  1. 3 Dozen a Week

    3 Dozen a Week Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2016
    Hi I am new here, but I would like to ask a question. Our chickens have been on grass all summer, but this is our first winter and we would like elevate the coop so we can clean it. My question is what is the best way to raise it and what the best floor is(plywood,sand,ect). Here are some pictures of the coop.[​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Where are you located? The reason I'm asking is because North Dakota experiences a much more severe winter than Miami Florida so your winter prep would be different based on your area.

    For winterizing a coop, you ideally want to have all the openings high up above the birds so it can ventilate moisture (they expel a lot more moisture than you realize) and the ammonia from their droppings, without having them constantly exposed to direct winds and keep them dry. Lots of ventilation, but not direct exposure to it. The coop in the photo looks like it would have them directly in front of a large opening, exposing them to wind and possibly allowing blowing rain or snow to build up inside. I can't tell if that open side can be closed.

    They will grow thicker feathers for colder temps and shed them (molt) in the spring, so you don't need to heat the coop. Just keep them dry. They are much more rugged than people believe and will survive sub-zero temps just like wild birds that live outside.

    You will need to keep their water from freezing. Lots of ideas on this site for how to do that.

    Raising that coop would definitely help if you get a lot of snow. They don't always like walking around in the snow and may decide to stay in the coop when the ground is covered. You could put it on a platform with a plywood floor, then cover the floor with pine shavings, then have a ramp going from the door down to the ground for them to walk in/out. All depends on your weather and budget.


    For a floor covering, you want something easy to clean that won't retain water. Pine shavings can be purchased in bales at Tractor Supply. 1 bale expands to cover a huge area and cost like $6. My coop is 16'x12' and I cover my floor with it. 6 bales last a year, but I built something to catch their droppings while they are sleeping so this helps make the shavings last longer since I have 30 birds pooping all night long. For just a few birds, the shavings will last a long length of time and help absorb the moisture from their droppings and minor water drips/spills to preserve the wood floor. Some people also use cheap linoleum flooring over the plywood as an additional lay of protection. Pine shavings are cheap, easy to clean, and easy to throw away. Straw or hay can be used, but some don't recommend it because the hollow shaft of the straw can be a place for mites and other parasites to live. They will live in the straw and vacation on your chickens. Sand can be used too, as long as it is set up to quickly drain water. Droppings can be sifted out of sand like a cat little box.

    I can't think of anything else at the moment. During the coldest months, I remember my biggest concern was keeping the water thawed out and collecting the eggs before they froze.
     
  3. 3 Dozen a Week

    3 Dozen a Week Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2016
    Thanks for all that!
    Yes, I realize that I didn't say we're in NJ.
    15 chickens. Coop is 8x8. We actually have two, so since they all decided to sleep in one coop, we can adjust the one and place in a permanent winter position. Would that be too confusing to them if they don't look exactly alike any more?

    Yes, the wire side needs to be closed. We need to decide if hard plastic will work or if we need to board it up.
    Good to know the about the beddings, thanks. I was concerned if I raise it, it will be harder to clean as I can't just step inside, right?
    I really like the poop deck idea and want to figure that into the update.
    I must find that info about water freezing too.
    Golly freezing eggs, yikes.

    BTW do you use a light to keep up egg production?
     
  4. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in NJ too. I do use a light on a timer in the winter. I have the light come on in the morning And stay on until after the sun comes up. I don't use it after sun down because I don't like the light snapping off and then it's suddenly dark and they can't see. Chickens can't see in the dark.

    The coop in the picture doesn't look 8x8 but I guess with nothing in the pic to reference the size it's hard to tell. Raising a coop that size may be more work, especially if you want to keep it to where you can access the inside. It's not mandatory to raise it. If you close it up to keep rain and snow out you could leave it as is and just shovel out an area so you can open the door to clean, feed them or let them out. Mine won't come out in the snow because their feet get cold. Once it melts enough that the ground is visible they will stay in areas that their feet aren't constantly covered.

    I have an 8x8 section on mine that has 8ft high walls and a 5/12 pitch roof. The floor is wood covered in pine shavings. Basically it's like a shed. The floor is only 4 inches off the ground. it's built on treated 4x4s and the whole thing sits on crushed stone to make sure water drains quickly. It has a walk in door and closeable window and the openings at the eaves are up above the roosting bars. The 6x8 section is raised up 4ft off the ground with a pop door on each side with ramps to the ground at each door. There's 2 doors on the front side of this with a window in each door. These door are so I can access this side of the coop from outside. I fence it off from the main coop and fence off the part of the run when I have younger chicks to let them grow and get familiar with the older birds but not be where the older birds could get to them and injure them. So the smaller birds have their own quarter of the coop and a small run to themselves. I digress.

    Chickens are creatures of habit and will try to sleep in the same place every time. If you have a winterize coop and a summer coop, they most likely won't choose the winter one on their own if they have access to both at the same time. If the 2nd coop is in a different field or fenced into a different run, you can easily move them to the new coop/run for the winter.

    Eggs will freeze if left in the coop long enough but as long as it doesn't freeze enough to crack the shell I still use them. In the winter I collect them in the morning and in the afternoon. Rest of the year, just in the afternoon.

    You have time to research methods for keeping water from freezing. Lots of options depending on your water set up and access to electricity in the coop. Mine is further from the house and carrying water out twice a day was a pain so I ran electric for something to heat the water.

    I'm all about making my life easy so I built something like a sandbox under the roost and filled it with PDZ (from tractor supply). It normally used in horse stalls. It keeps the coop from stinking and once s week I sift out the poo with a big cat litter scoop, put it in a bucket and dump iTunes the brush pile ( my coop is on the edge of the woods and i have a pile of cut down trees and brush). Takes all of 5 minutes once s week.
     
  5. 3 Dozen a Week

    3 Dozen a Week Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2016
    That's great. Thanks again for your replies.
    I think I have a good idea if what your coop looks like.
    Are your chickens in this year round?
    I'd love a shed type one, but these were the cheapest and easiest to make this year. They are indeed 8x8 with a height of 6ft in the center. So I stoop to go inside. The winter place would be a different location. At the moment we have them inside a flexible electric fence which we move around. What I really need to know is how much sq ftq will they need for winter, or will I need to build a run around the coop?
    I don't want them pecking each other out boredom or being shut inside a dark coop all day.
    I like the stones for drainage idea,
    as well as running electric to the coop!
    I'm worried about how well the electrofence will work in the winter, without much sunlight for the charger or snow/ice to
    diffuse the charge. I'm concerned about predators being more needy in winter also.
    Obviously I'd like them in the winter spot as short as possible, when do you think it gets cold enough to coop them up or is it just certain days/weeks that are snowy?

    Lastly, since I'm new to this site, where can I find the threads about keeping water from freezing? I might need other ideas if we can't get electricity out to them.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I use a small coop for birds. Come winter I have a lean to, a roof that is on ground one end and supported by 2x4's in ground other. The coop is moved in front of the lean to and a tarp put along one side. This effectively triples the daytime cold weather space. Roof keeps the snow and icy rain out and between that and tarp they are shielded from the wind. On the below 10 F days and hard snowing days they hang out in the lean to area all day. I keep food and water there. On nice days they use the shoveled path to go and hang out under a favorite bush of thiers. We put hay under the bush and under the lean to for them for bedding.

    [​IMG]
    This coop is 4x7, not including the external nest box. The birds are outside everyday. Had 11 bird winter in last year and will probably have 15 winter this year.
    [​IMG]
    Light covering of snow but there is hay under that bush. The sun melts thin snow cover. Otherwise I shovel areas and path or add more hay.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
  8. 3 Dozen a Week

    3 Dozen a Week Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2016
    Aart, this is what I was just saying here at home, as we took the unused coop into position earlier.

    Egghead, great ideas. Thanks for sharing your photos! They're very helpful. I was also just thinking about a sheltered outdoor area, perhaps using a carport cover.
     
  9. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine are in this setup year round. The fenced in run area is big enough for 30 chickens but I only have around 25 right now. The fence is 8ft high and fenced over the top to keep Hawks out. The part of the run adjacent to the coop has a solid roof over it and they can go under the raised part of the coop too. So in the winter I open the pop doors every day and they decide if the weather is nice enough to come out.

    How much room they need inside depends on their size and the size of the outside run that they have access to. Rule of thumb is 4 sq ft of space per bird in the coop with 10 sq ft per bird in the run or if you let them free range all day. If they will only be in the coop you'll want 10 sq ft of space in the coop. This is a rule of thumb. The more room the better obviously. The rule can be adjusted for the size of your birds. Bantam chickens will settle in with a smaller area and larger breeds that grow between 8-12 lbs will need more room. I use the 4 sq ft rule for my coop because their run is huge and they have access to it all day and I free range them for a few hours a day. Most of my flock is 4 lb hens for laying eggs. The winters here in NJ are not severe enough to warrant a coop with 10 sq ft per bird if you don't already have an out building or barn that size. They will come out when it's cold. There won't be that many days where the ground is covered with heavy snow that they couldn't deal with staying in the coop for several days with food and water and no access to the outside.

    With the size coop you have and the number of birds, I'd give them a run to go with it if you have the space. Putting the coops end to end is not a bad idea at all.

    I'm on my iPhone using the app so it's hard to link to other threads but just use the search feature. If you google search for keeping chickens water from freezing, some of the top links should bring you to threads on this site.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
  10. 3 Dozen a Week

    3 Dozen a Week Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 15, 2016
    Ok, thank you. That is what I thought. So yes I will have to get them more sq ftq for a run or something of the sort. I keep wondering if having a permanent set up is a better idea than the movable arrangement I currently have. I guess I will find out with this winter.
     

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